First Whitney Houston and then Aaliyah...and now Richard Pryor? 'Tis the season to film a biopic!
It hasn't been confirmed just yet but a few strong clues have revealed that actor Nick Cannon may be taking on the role as legendary comedian Richard Pryor soon. For the past week, Nick has been on Instagram posting vintage black and white shots of Richard, and the other day he even posted a side-by-side shot of himself alongside a vintage shot of Richard Pryor with the caption:
Picking up smoking cigarettes for the next few months so forgive me if I smell like an ashtray. #KidsDontTryThis#CancerSticksSuck#AnythingForTheCraft#HopeIDontGetAddicted#LeftHandChainSmoking#ActorLife#NotAGame#Ncredible
Nick also wrote:
#TBT I'm feeling his spirit. I hope y'all ready for the next level in my career. #GameChanger#Pryor
Thing is, Nick hasn't completely confirmed that he's in the biopic... but something is up. In an interview with TMZ, he revealed:
This is the thing...there's been a lot of people out there...I never want to jinx anything because you guys know how movies work. [If] it's not in production, it's not real, so all I'm saying is I'm doing
the work right now. I'm doing everything I need to do to embody it when the opportunity is right. Like you guys were saying earlier, it's something that's been in the works for quite some time. I don't want to look like one of those actors who's like, 'Oh yeah they're doing it' and you never see the film.
In my mind, [I already have the part.] I've definitely sat with Lee [Daniels] who's a close friend and we've actually worked quite a bit on getting it right so...the movie isn't in production yet so, again, I don't want to be one of those dudes...I want to do it the right way. When it comes to something that's a sensitive as a legend as Richard Pryor. There's family. There's friends. Production. There's so many things that go into weighing in on who should be this person and I don't want to be out there like 'Oh yeah I'm doing it' and you look up and that's not the case.
I'm doing what I need to do. I'm growing out the hair and all of this. I'm looking like I'm 40-years-old. I'm chain-smoking. I told Lee the one thing I'm not gonna do is free base. I'm not going that far.
Nick also stopped by Hot 97 recently, with his hair grown out in a fro, and when The Morning Show asked what was up with the new look, he hinted that it was all for a movie role:
I’m preparing for a role so that’s why my hair is out. I think the afro pick is more of a fashion statement.
You’re looking like Richard Pryor?
A lot of people are saying that. That might be the look I’m going for. This is the thing, I always keep it 100 with y’all. I don’t want to get out and start bragging about this role because people have done it in the past and I don’t want to be one of those dudes to be like, 'Oh this is the next thing and I’m going to do this.' I want the work to speak for itself.
On this role being a game changer for his career
This is a coveted role and I'm sure his estate and family take it very seriously.
People get out there and they say I’m doing this and they haven’t talked to the family. He’s a legend; he’s one of the best so I’m trying to do everything properly. The way the movie business works, something can be in development for five years – 10 years. I actually learned this lesson when I was attached to the Arthur Ash project about six years ago. I went out there and I was at Sundance and 'Oh, this is my next movie.' Because of so many moving parts you look crazy talking about something that is not shooting. So I’m not saying nothing until the movie is in production.
Should this work out this could potentially be a career-defining role.[...]I’m just saying if I get the opportunity and that film actually happens I’m going to give it my all and do everything I can to be the best performer.
If Nick hasn't snagged the role just yet, he has some tough competition. Last year, Mike Epps casually revealed in an interview that he would be playing Richard Pryor, and months later, it was revealed that Marlon Wayans may be playing the part. When asked about it, Marlon told Indiewire:
You know, I don't know what's going on with it. Hollywood is in a weird place right now. Everyone's scared to make movies. I think it'll be a brilliant movie. You know, I'd never done stand-up until 2 years ago, when I did for the first time. And the reason I started doing stand-up was in preparation to play Richard Pryor. And for me - I'm a method actor - and I just wanted to become Richard Pryor, and see what the journey of a comedian was. But since the movie stalled, I don't know when it'll get done. But one day, I believe it will get done. So in the meantime, I'm just making sure that I'm prepared for that moment, starting with doing lots of stand-up around the country. And you know, it's making me better, smarter, more articulate, and more calmer, and a better writer. So I'm so grateful for this journey, and believing that one day it will get done, and I want to make sure I'm prepared and ready for that moment when it comes.
Out of all three, if Richard's kids had their way, it would be Marlon Wayans to play their father.
Who do you think should play Richard Pryor?
Watch Nick on Hot 97 below: